The opening round of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship in Serbia proved to be one of mixed fortunes for Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Billy Bolt. Returning to the championship after being sidelined through injury in 2022, the newly crowned FIM SuperEnduro World Champion was in high spirits arriving to the Xross Hard Enduro Rally.
Staged over four days in Serbia, the event took in an action-packed endurocross prologue on Wednesday, before setting out on three 100-kilometre-long days of Hard Enduro racing with GPS navigation.
Hitting the ground running, Billy was on flying form around the short endurocross course on his TE 300. Fastest in qualification, the SuperEnduro champ stepped it up another level for the six minute plus one lap race. With a clear holeshot, he quickly distanced himself from the rest of the pack to win by an incredible 37 seconds. Importantly, his prologue victory also earned him three championship points.
With the option to start Offroad Day 1 in third, Billy began the wet and rainy day confident of a strong result. Clocking in some incredibly quick times, he was pushing hard for the win. However, a navigation error in the closing stages of the day unfortunately saw him drop down the leaderboard from a potential top-three placing to ninth thanks to a 43-minute penalty.
Bouncing back, the Husqvarna rider won the following day in style. Charging hard through traffic, he consistently set the pace all day on his TE 300. Reaching as high as second overall on the road, he triumphed with a six-second margin of victory on corrected time. Climbing back up to third in the outright standings, second overall suddenly looked possible.
Unfortunately, despite a strong start to the final day, bad luck struck again. Battling a technical issue as he arrived at the midday service, Bolt lost a lot of time. Regrouping, he soldiered on to finish the day in 22nd and 10th overall in the final classification.
The FIM Hard Enduro World Championship continues with round two at Red Bull Erzbergrodeo in Austria on June 8-11.
Billy Bolt: “It’s been quite the up and down sort of week for me. Everything started off great by winning the prologue. On day one I was riding really good in the rain. In the afternoon I got my navigation mixed up and unfortunately that led to a 43-minute penalty, which dropped me to ninth. I bounced back to win the following day and got back in podium contention. Sitting third, I felt second was possible and if I could achieve that then I would still tie on points for the championship lead thanks to my prologue victory. However, I ran into some problems and despite the team’s best efforts at the service point I had to ride steady to the finish line. There are a lot of positives to take though. My riding is good, and the bike setup is very nice to ride. We’ve a long season ahead of us and although this week wasn’t meant to be, I know there are better races to come.”
FIM Hard Enduro World Championship - Round 1
Xross Hard Enduro Rally Provisional Event Classification
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 9:49:28.60; 2. Mario Roman (Sherco) 10:22:38.10; 3. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 10:29:04.12; 4. Trystan Hart (KTM) 10:33:04.42; 5. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 10:36:49.98… 10. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 11:41:41.05…
Championship Standings (After round 1)
1. Manuel Lettenbichler (KTM) 20pts; 2. Mario Roman (Sherco) 17pts; 3. Teodor Kabakchiev (KTM) 15pts; 4. Trystan Hart (KTM) 14pts; 5. Alfredo Gomez (Rieju) 11pts; 5. Michael Walkner (GASGAS) 11pts… 8. Billy Bolt (Husqvarna) 9pts…